I went to a baseball game Monday, but a social experiment broke out.
In the midst of a great game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees I found myself watching the crowd.
The support was split between Rays and Yankees — those rude and obnoxious Yankees fans.
I am one, by the way. Have been all my life. A Yankees fan that is, not rude and obnoxious. But when the Yanks aren't in town, I pull for Carl and the boys.
I'm used to the venom about Yankees fans. Sure, some are idiots. But most of us, when our team does well, cheer, and when they do poorly we let them have it. We don't usually aim our vitriol at opposing players. (Well, maybe a few Red Sox.) We focus on our team.
Why don't you?
In the third inning Monday, Yankees fans around us started chanting "Let's Go Yankees," a standard for the team's faithful everywhere. A positive chant. For THEIR team.
Rays fans, deciding such sacrilege couldn't be allowed, tried to drown them out with "Let's go Rays," right? Wrong.
"Yankees S---" sprang to life.
Each time Yankees fans started to chant, it was greeted with the derogatory response.
No skin off my nose, as they say. I've heard it before. But then I started watching a family of Rays fans in front of one proud group of anti-chanters.
Mom's hands covered her ears. Dad was slumped in his seat, with an embarrassed look on his face. Between them, their young son seemed to enjoy the chant. They left after the fifth inning.
Our section wasn't unique. The anti-chant was audible in many parts of the stadium. What I didn't hear, all night, was a rude comment from any Yankees fan near us.
It's time for Rays fans to get creative.
Instead of borrowing from the Red Sox, come up with your own slogan. "We will, we will, burn you" to the Queen tune fits the new Rays scheme.
The drums in rightfield are a nice touch, though it has been done before.
Maybe Rays fans could just become better baseball fans.
At a critical time in the game, the video screen in the outfield showed a great clip — pro wrestler Brian Nobbs urging fans to go crazy for the Rays. Fans went berserk. The video ended as the Yankees were still warming up. By the time the first Rays batter stepped in the box, fans were back in the seats, their fervor spent.
But there was enough fire left for a few more "Yankees S---" chants.
It wasn't restricted to the stands. In the concourse I saw a group of Rays fans yelling at a family, whose only transgression was wearing Yankees gear, to "get the h--- out of here."
I walked into a men's restroom to hear the only occupant screaming at a urinal about how much he hates Yankees fans.
In the concourses after the game, some women chanted for the Yankees. Several Rays fans responded by yelling threats.
I'm wondering why you hate us so much.
The Yankees have helped fill the Rays' coffers with revenue sharing and luxury tax money. Yankees fans boost parking and concession revenue. And that's after paying a 66 percent premium over the standard ticket price to get in the door. (Imagine ordering a steak dinner, menu price $24. When the bill comes the price is $40. The waiter tells you, "Hey, the steaks looked good today, so we charged more.")
In other words, the Yankees are good for the Rays.
I've been to games in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, among others — much more "hostile" territory than St. Petersburg. I've had a great time with opposing fans in each.
But I had to go to Tropicana Field to watch a fan unleash an anti-Yankees diatribe at a urinal. Or watch men threaten women and kids supporting their team.
Maybe it's time to stop fixating on us. Maybe it's time the good Rays fans start looking inward, at their own, instead of complaining about us.
Class is better than crude.
The real silver lining is that we're not Red Sox fans. I've heard them chant "Yankees S---" . . . at Rays' games.
Now that should insult you.
Times staff writer Kyle Kreiger writes an occasional rant about life in the Tampa Bay area. Contact him at [email protected]